Gabriella Ripley-Phipps
&
Sally Binford

The Archival Dinner Party
Participatory event and mixed media video installation
2009

LINEAGE I

Gabriella Ripley-Phipps. Her mind filled with joy and wonder, Gabriella is in love with everything and anything. Whenever she sees a cat on the street or sidewalk, she meows to it and attempts to pet it (she is usually successful).  Gabriella graduated with a degree in art from UCSC in 2009 and lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Sally Binford was an anthropologist and early model for the sex-positive feminist. She had lovers of all genders, held monthly parties at her house, made French fries in goosefat and participated in a regular poker group. She was one of the organizers of the first Old Lesbian Conference held in San Francisco in 1989. Shortly before turning 70, Sally took her own life, an act she had planned for years to avoid dependency or ill health.  The archive collection Gabriella has gathered includes the letter Sally sent posthumously to all her friends.

“Having asked people to enter an artistic space where intimacy is desired and threatens the possibility of ingenuine interactions, I was surprised at how natural and real the guests were with each other. Sitting at the end of the table watching my friends, previously unbeknownst to one another, talk and share on an extremely inimate level, I was filled with such love and respect for each individual.”

I had some trouble with this.  I don't feel close to Sally, I feel closer to those who loved her. I am not compelled to learn more, I don't like her.

If only I could understand her need for control, If only I knew why she loved poodles, If only I knew why her and her daughter were not close. I only see the sides of Sally that were bright and brilliant. Without an understanding of her darkness, I can’t know her.

I think I would have liked Sally, though she would have been intimidating as all hell. I might have had a crush on her too. Learning about her free ways of living and loving has nurtured my desire to explore a similar pathway of self-loyalty. - Gabriella Ripley-Phipps

Gabriella, a recent graduate of UCSC, has done something unique for this project.  She has developed an archive for someone not yet represented in the GLBTHS collections:  Sally Binford.  She met with people who knew Sally, corresponded with Sally’s granddaughter, and collected photos and artifacts to donate.  She also became intrigued by stories about Sally’s famous dinner parties, and decided to create her own “Archival Dinner Party” under Sally’s influence. Participants anonymously donated 5 objects each to “be remembered by” and later had to construct a biography for a set of objects belonging to someone else.  It was a way of exploring the way people’s lives are remembered through the objects they leave behind. At the dinner party, Gabriella also told of Sally’s life and death and its impact on her. - E.G. Crichton


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